Music

Pink Floyd: The Division Bell (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Welcome to the machine.


Pink Floyd

The Division Bell (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Label: Parlophone
US Release Date: 2014-06-30
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

I started writing about music in 2002, when Tarwater came to town. A gig like many others, but the cunning art of self-admiration, combined with the romantic idea of receiving free albums and press passes kept me going for quite a few years. I have had many a chance to review groundbreaking albums like the Strokes’ Room on Fire, or the Darkness’ late glam masterpiece Permission to Land, and I honestly felt rather embarrassed for those who had to come up with idiotic Pindaric flights to shamelessly tell us that, yes, rock music was reaching a new high. Luckily for me, I never had to review a new Pink Floyd record and I will probably keep myself at a safe distance next time something comes out.

But there is nothing to fear with The Division Bell. It is an album that is OK to dislike. When it came out, in 1994, most critics saw it as the elegant, albeit ineluctable evidence of the fact that Pink Floyd’s inspirational juices were all but gone. Those were the so-called (not without a hint of malice) “Gilmour years”, when his guitar, that sliding, that minimalism that ironically made the band’s sound too complete, those blues licks and those minor pentatonic scales were almost all that Pink Floyd was about. But the record sold millions of copies and became the last studio album to be released by the remaining members of the band -- the late Richard Wright, Nick Mason and the aforementioned iconic guitarist.

Although not playing an active role in the making of the album, founder Roger Waters is indeed a presence to be reckoned with. The Division Bell is an album inspired by a mix of angst, resentment and disillusion, most of them aimed at the betrayal of the spirit which pervaded Europe at the end of the previous decade ("A Great Day for Freedom"), but it is undeniable that Waters is somehow at the receiving end of tunes like “What Do You Want from Me” or “Poles Apart”. A lot has been said and indeed will continue to be said about the lasting legacy of Pink Floyd, a band so capable of appealing to the educated ear as well as to the occasional listener. And whilst this box will not contribute any succulent insight to the debate, it undoubtedly provides the perfect soundtrack.

The sound, on this Deluxe Collector’s Edition box, has been treated to a 5.1 surround sound mix, remastered from the original analogue masters on a 2-LP 180-gram vinyl featuring full length tracks for the first time. And as if it weren’t enough, the box contains a red seven-inch vinyl replica of "Take It Back”, a clear 7-inch and a 12-inch vinyl replica of "High Hopes" with reverse laser etched design, the 2011 Discovery remaster of The Division Bell, and a Blu-ray disc including the album in HD Audio and a new music video for the Grammy-winning track "Marooned". You know. The usual.

Is this box worth the money it is on sale for ($125.88 on Amazon)? With a Pink Floyd album, this is a matter of subjectivity. The average buyer knows exactly what they’re getting, so no word of advice is needed or, indeed, sought. The Division Bell is what it is: not the best Pink Floyd album and, yet, a sonic masterpiece.

7

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image